Proposed “Anti-Waste” law: the GSICA’s position

Improving packaging but not reducing it pell-mell. A decisive position and helpful advice from the GSICA to improve the language of a proposed law that would otherwise be potentially misleading and harmful in many respects.

The Italian Food Packaging Science Group (GSICA) represents a wide array of cultural and manufacturing fields. Its experts are committed to the growth and progress of science on packaging. It is a not-for-profit organization that aims to inform in the interest of socially responsible and sustainable development. In light of this mission, GSICA feels that it is its right and responsibility to publicly intervene concerning a position recently taken by the supporters of a law proposed to the Senate of the Republic.
The recently proposed “anti-waste” law is linked to the one already approved by the Chamber of Deputies and contains some very thoughtful measures to combat food waste. However, its opening lines opine that “the other key to reducing waste is the reduction of packaging, in the interest of which we propose a tax credit of 140% for shops that employ packaging-free sales formats”.

Clarifying messages in the interest of safety
Although we agree with the measures to combat food waste, the GSICA holds that the message on packaging communicated by the associated proposed law is not only wrong but dangerously misleading. In fact, the reduction of packaging would result in precisely the opposite effect to that desired, since it would reduce the life cycle of food products, thereby drastically increasing food waste.
In the GSICA’s view, the key to reducing food loss and waste is not the reduction of packaging but its enhancement and optimization.

Concretely, this means greater efficiency in protecting food products (with resulting extended product life cycles), improved service for the consumer (by facilitating reuse, complete emptying, reclosure, etc.), greater attention to sustainability, avoiding overpackaging, ensuring that packaging is produced using easily recyclable materials and increasingly with natural products, while adopting, where possible, compostable and biodegradable solutions.

Don’t reduce, but optimize
By replacing the language “reduction of packaging” with “optimization of packaging”, recognizing the positive role of packaging, at various levels, in ensuring the quality, safety and sustainability of food products and beverages, legislators would signal a competent and reasoned approach, free of grandstanding and demogoguery.

- This would mean being aware of the position taken by the FAO, which has recently declared that «… appropriate packaging helps to reduce Food Loss and Waste at any stage in the food supply chain», anticipating effective innovations to make packaging increasingly high performance and protective.
- It would mean acknowledging the most recent science in this field, which, applying rigorous Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) criteria, shows that packaging plays an essential role in our food system and that its impact on the environment is negligible compared to that of the products themselves.

- It would mean proceeding in line with the orientations of the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR), which recently funded a Project in the National Interest (PRIN2012) whose object is the reduction of waste through appropriate innovations to packaging, product composition and processing.
- It would mean recognizing that Italy is on the cutting edge in europe (albeit with some regions lagging behind) in separate collection and recycling, including in composting urban waste, largely thanks to the economic contributions paid out by packaging manufacturers to the National Packaging Consortium (CONAI).

The GSICA maintains that these are the right messages to send to the Italian people, in order for the country to carry on down the path of sustainable development. In reaffirming our commitment in this direction, the GSICA offers the intellectual honesty and scientifice expertise of its members at the service of the government and anyone else interested in this debate.



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